Rec leagueâ€™s only girl is a force to be reckoned with
By Susan Dickson
Out on the baseball diamonds of the Carrboro Recreation and Parks league, amid a sea of teenage boys, perhaps it will surprise you to see a blonde ponytail poking out of a pitcherâ€™s cap.
What certainly will surprise you is the rocket behind the arm of that young athlete.
Emily Boykin, 15, has been playing baseball with the boys since she was five years old. But each year, as sheâ€™s advanced through the various Carrboro leagues, sheâ€™s found herself with fewer female teammates.
In fact, for about the past five years now sheâ€™s been the only girl.
“Everybody thinks that itâ€™s weird, but Iâ€™ve just gotten used to it,â€ Boykin said. It helps that the guys on her team donâ€™t seem to treat her any differently.
â€œSheâ€™s pretty much treated as one of the guys,â€ said her mom, Julie Boykin.
Boykin pitches for the Tigers in Carrboroâ€™s 13-to-15-year-old league and sheâ€™s also the starting catcher for the varsity girlâ€™s softball team as a freshman at Cedar Ridge High School.
Riley Marcoplos, one of Boykinâ€™s long-time Carrboro teammates, said sometimes other teams think itâ€™s a little strange when a girl takes the pitcherâ€™s mound.
But, he added, â€œShe can throw harder than a lot of the players on their team.â€
Mark Marcoplos has been Boykinâ€™s baseball coach for the past five years and said he has rarely seen any of the guys treat her differently than their other teammates.
â€œHer level of play will not allow that,â€ he said. â€œFor her to play at this level is really remarkable.â€
â€œSheâ€™s not just been the girl out there on the field â€“ sheâ€™s been one of the best players,â€ Marcoplos added.
The Tigers have been undefeated on the field this season: their one loss is for a game they had to forfeit because not enough players were able to attend. Now they head to the playoffs.
â€œI truly believe this is the best team in Carrboro Rec history,â€ Marcoplos said. Most of the Tigers have been playing together for years, Boykin included.
This was Boykinâ€™s first year playing school softball, and she said itâ€™s been a little difficult going back and forth between baseball and softball practices and games.
â€œIt keeps me pretty busy just playing one sport,â€ she said.
But Boykin insisted on playing baseball this year because itâ€™s her last year of eligibility in the league â€“ and while sheâ€™ll be able to continue softball, theyâ€™re arenâ€™t many opportunities for her to play baseball.
â€œ[Softball] is completely different,â€ she continued, adding that it sometimes has been tricky making the necessary changes to her swing when going from one game to the next.
While Boykin is modest about her baseball and softball skills, sheâ€™s been selected to the 22-player All-Conference softball team.
Although she will continue to play softball, Boykin said sheâ€™ll miss baseball.
â€œI have to figure out some place else to play,â€ she said.